Part 1: Can Excelerate SPANISH be used for Spanish I? Homeschool Moms Want to Know

As the author of Excelerate SPANISH, I’d like to say, first of all, that teaching high school Spanish is what I did professionally for ten years.  I’ve seen what works… and I’ve seen what doesn’t.  When I started homeschooling my own children in 2003, it was fun trying out several foreign language curricula that were popular among homeschoolers.  Some were pleasant enough– even downright cute– but we made very little headway with them.  Others bored or frustrated us.  Enter my experimentation phase!

Over the summer of 2007, I researched harder than ever for solutions.  That fall, I offered a Total Physical Response (TPR) Spanish class to the local homeschool community.  What we found over the course of that school year was that students who used TPR felt confident and successful.  I had never seen such smiley foreign language students!  The following year, most of them came back for more, but they also seemed to be itching to do more.  Enter the story phase!

When my group of (mostly) high school boys were given a lesson that employed both TPR and storytelling/dramatization, they beamed with satisfaction and rewarded me by speaking in paragraphs!  Though I didn’t realize it at the time, we were actually employing Charlotte Mason‘s idea of “narration” in our foreign language study.

Children learning from parents

The students were using whole language to express what they had seen and heard.  And they did so in ways that were neither contrived nor merely memorized, but spontaneous, accurate, and totally internalized.  Finally, the perfect fit.

After a happy, productive year of unprecedented results in my private classes, I began to feel badly for students and teachers all across America who were struggling– and suffering– their way through dry, rote, ineffective foreign language programs.  If only there were a way I could videotape our lessons and make them available to others, I thought.

The first step towards making this vision a reality was writing an original curriculum based upon the sound teaching principles I had discovered to work best.  To be efficient, it would have to feature high-frequency expressions (those used most often by native Spanish speakers).  To be compelling, the material would have to appeal to the students in personal ways and through interesting and varied contexts.  To enhance retention, lessons would need to capitalize on our human traits of empathy, appreciation for humor, etc.  I believe that Excelerate SPANISH balances these needs and interests adeptly.

caryn close-upA terrible candid shot of the author, caught working during a child’s birthday party! 🙂

The second step was piloting the lessons with real students, revising, etc.  The addition of a preface explains the approach, provides some instruction for co-op teachers/tutors, and gives homeschool parents and students ideas for homework assignments, review activities, and more.  A coordinating workbook provides additional practice opportunities.  The answer key takes all of the guesswork out of the equation for homeschool parents who don’t speak the language.

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Next, I hired professional videographer Jeremy Russell to record each of the 24 lessons in the Excelerate SPANISH lesson book.  I gathered a nice group of volunteer subjects (most of whom had had little to no previous exposure to Spanish), and the taping began.  We were amazed at how smoothly it all went!  For, though I absolutely created this program for high school students, the video class was composed of multiple ages, with students ranging in age from 7 to 17– and they all got it.  Since the language is taught using brain-friendly methods, and because the process mirrors early language acquisition, it simply works better for most age groups.  I think you’ll see that in the faces of the video students.  You’ll see it in the ear-to-ear grins of the younger (perhaps less self-conscious) kiddos in the videos.  And you’ll see it in the mature and composed demeanor (sometimes referred to as “too cool for school”) in the middle and high school students.

Excelerate lesson 9

Smiling and Successful!

I am pleased to relate that private tutors and co-op teachers in multiple states are now enjoying– and reporting– the same success using the Excelerate SPANISH books in their live classes that we have enjoyed in ours.  I am happy to provide training and support for parents and teachers who would like to use Excelerate to teach the material themselves, without using the lesson videos.  But I believe that my main goal, the goal of offering a kinder, gentler, “golden rule” way of teaching Spanish to anyone, anywhere, has been uniquely realized in the production of the DVD lessons.  I invite you to “transport” your student(s) to my quaint and quirky schoolroom– vicariously, that is– to join us.  At your convenience, on your schedule, and from the comfort of your living room.

Accelerate Acquisition.

Unleash Creativity.

Promote Excellence.

Discover the Power of Story.

Excelerate Spanish

90 DAY GUARANTEE Love it or your money back!

90 DAY GUARANTEE
Love it or your money back!

 

The Power of STORY: Charlotte Mason, Living Books, and a Lifetime of Learning

Stories allure and compel us.  The themes and struggles and victories of stories captivate our imaginations whether they are packaged in books or plays or movies or even gossip.  Good stories appeal to every generation and to every culture.  They speak to the deepest part of each of us.  They are universal!

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Of course, the value of a good story extends far beyond its plot or its entertainment value.  Stories are superb vehicles for imparting wisdom and moral teachings, for drawing inferences, and for communicating timeless truths and ideals.  Parents who draw from magnificently penned tales of heroism and brilliantly conceived tragedies will find in them a ready and able partner in character training.  Which is more pleasant, sharing a meaningful story with your child, or nagging and lecturing him?

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  -Philippians 4:8b

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Moreover, in a purely academic sense, stories provide a wealth of context from which to teach our students what might then be rightly termed language arts.  As home educators, we—and our children—have the freedom and luxury of partaking of a feast of eloquence consisting of masterfully written stories as fodder for our studies.  Rather than unnaturally isolating vocabulary, spelling, grammar, capitalization, punctuation, etc. for rote or mechanical exercises, we may expect to achieve greater gains, and with fewer pains, by availing ourselves of the best works, on the most excellent themes, by the most skillful of writers!  What better way?

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”       -Albert Einstein

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Unquestionably, many great thinkers were educated with such a holistic approach and/or advocated such methods.  Charlotte Mason, the esteemed British educator whose model we aspire to incorporate within our family’s own homeschool, promoted the use of “living books.” She believed that children derive much more when presented with a rich tapestry of ideas than when laboring over tedious drills.

“Do not let the endless succession of small things crowd great ideals out of sight and out of mind.” -Charlotte Mason

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Like Miss Mason, I believe that students are more likely to be inspired by books written by single authors who are passionate about their subjects than they ever will be by those curricula which are pieced together during committee meetings with artificial and contrived benchmarks as their rule and guide.  I also believe that delight-driven learning carries our students further and offers more promise than requirements which seem to be little more than dry rigor for the sake of rigor.

Unlike Miss Mason, I have a heightened appreciation for some degree of silliness.  Now, I’m not referring to “twaddle” in the sense of dumbed-down texts, but rather a little well-placed (or well-timed) levity for the sake of firing up the limbic system.  You see, Charlotte Mason could not have known in her day what we now know in ours: that laughter enhances the learning process by reducing stress hormones, improving memory, and aiding our ability to process information.  How fortunate we are!

Excelerate Lesson 1

In keeping with these ideals, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Excelerate SPANISH.  I designed it to bring the awesome power of story to your student’s foreign language study.  To delight you with themes and situations designed to evoke smiles and laughter, not tears of boredom.  To provide you with contexts that mimic real-life contexts, using language that mimics real-life language.  And to fire up neurons in your student’s brain like no other foreign language program ever.

Ultimately, teaching kids Spanish is only a small part of the goal.  The true culmination of our students’ studies lies in their acquisition of the wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and experience that is attached to language ability.  Our students’ proficiency in Spanish opens the vast treasures of Spanish-language literature, history, philosophy, theology, arts, and media from over 20 countries, spanning centuries and even millennia!  How is that for incorporating living books? How is that for instilling a lifetime love of learning?  What an incredible gift to award to our children!

Delight.

Accelerated acquisition.

Retention.

Excellence.

Rewards to last a lifetime.

Excelerate SPANISH.

I think you’ll like it.

Try it in your homeschool now!

90 DAY GUARANTEE Love it or your money back!

90 DAY GUARANTEE
Love it or your money back!